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Information Literacy | Library and Information Science

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

Since 2004, librarians at the Augustana College's Thomas Tredway Library have successfully integrated information literacy instruction into the Augustana General Education Studies (AGES) program. Though they now teach information literacy skills to nearly all Augustana students, engaging students and promoting active learning can still be a challenge. Understanding that our students—most of whom are 18-22 years old and of the Millennial Generation—have grown up immersed in computer-based technologies, librarians Amanda Makula and Anne Earel sought to incorporate technological tools into their instruction when pedagogically valuable in order to create a more interactive learning environment.

When first-year students arrive at the library in the spring for their third Liberal Studies course, many believe – and often express! – that they have already received sufficient instruction in developing a research question, using library resources, and evaluating sources. How do we engage these students, showing them the difference between what they think they know and what they actually know, revealing the value of repeated practice, and connecting previous instruction with the assignment at hand? The answer can be simple: Ask questions. As students confront their uncertainty and/or inability to remember key components of earlier lessons, their resistance softens and they become more receptive.

Librarian Amanda Makula worked with Liberal Studies instructors to design an instruction session built around questions targeting library skills and delivered using an electronic “clicker” system called Beyond Question. The questions asked students to consider how they would accomplish specific objectives (e.g., retrieving a copy of a specific article). Each question was displayed to the class, and each student logged his/her response (e.g., A, B, or C) anonymously with hand-held remotes. The software graphed the responses, immediately showing how many students selected each answer. This hands-on, interactive, question-based model of instruction highlighted the gap between students’ perceived and actual knowledge of research skills while resulting in greater participation.

For many Augustana students, upper-level coursework in their chosen disciplines represents just the beginning of their experiences with advanced research; a majority of students will undertake postgraduate study (as of fall 2007, 57% of Augustana students who graduated in 1997 and 2002 had completed a master’s, Ph.D., or other professional degree). In upper-level instruction, then, we seek to create an environment that mimics the collaborative nature of post-graduate research while teaching crucial discipline-specific skills.

Librarian Anne Earel and anthropology professor Dr. Adam Kaul designed a “class bibliography” component for his senior seminar class that used the RefWorks bibliographic management program to store references found by and available to all students in the class. The class created a joint RefWorks account with a shared username and password; students knew each other’s topics and were encouraged to look for research materials to further not only their individual projects, but also those of their fellow classmates. Facilitated by RefWorks, students shared the responsibility of finding resources for their research, fostering a sense of collaboration that the students appreciated even as it prepared them for possible post-graduate study.

Original Citation

Poster presented at the Association of College & Research Libraries’ 2009 Conference, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, WA.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License